On Sunday 26th January, Chidon HaTanach UK held a national Tanach (Bible) quiz at the Pillar Hotel, London. The quiz is the culmination of Chidon HaTanach’s National Tanach Study Programme for Jewish children in the UK with 43 students from years 7-11 taking part. Five Jewish Schools participated in the programme: Yavneh Boys King David High School Manchester, Yavneh Girls King David High School Manchester, Immanuel College London, Hasmonean High School for Boys London and Hasmonean High School for Girls London. The UK programme was curated with the help of The Jewish Agency in Israel and Rabbi Eliyahu Silverman, Mizrachi Shaliach and Rabbi at Hasmonean high school who was the Rabbinical force behind the syllabus and structure of the Chidon HaTanach for the UK.
After a rigorous program of studying over the last year, Chidon HaTanach put the student’s Tanach knowledge to the test in a day of written and verbal quizzes across two streams: the Junior Stream for years 7-9 and a Senior Stream for students in years 9-11. The Junior Stream National Chidon covered 63 chapters from various parts of the Tanach whilst the Senior Stream National Chidon covered an impressive 261 chapters in the verbal quiz. The main challenge for the contestants was memorising the vast amount of material, names and places from different places in the Tanach.
All students were tasked with a pre-chidon written exam before the top 12 students from the Junior Stream made it on to the stage together with the top 10 from the Senior Stream for a verbal quiz from Master of Ceremonies and Moderator Yossi Fachler. The competition was judged by Rabbi Michael Pollak, educational consultant for PaJeS, Rabbi Eliezer Zobin, Rabbi of Ner Yisrael Synagogue and Principal at Immanuel College and Rabbi Amram Landau, Rabbi from Hasmonean High School.
Three students from each stream were crowned winners. From the Junior Stream, first place was awarded to Orly Maierovits, in second place was, Sara Solomon from Year 9 Hasmonean High Schools and third place went to Leah Kalmus.
In first place for the Senior Stream was Batsheva Schwab, Year 10 Hasmonean High School for Girls, in second place was Reuven Simcha Garber, Year 11 Hasmonean High School for Boys and in third place was Avigayil Rowe, Year 10 Hasmonean High School for Girls. The three Senior Stream winners won themselves a trip to Israel for the two week International Chidon Bible Camp, where they will join 80 finalists from over 40 other countries, touring Israel and visiting places of the Tanach.
The Senior Stream winners also secured themselves the opportunity to compete for a spot in the World Chidon Bible Contest for Jewish Youth on Israeli Independence Day. The annual contest takes place at the Jerusalem Theatre and is a very prestigious event in the Jewish and Israeli calendar. The event, which is televised globally, will be attended by over 1,000 people, including the Israeli Prime Minister, the Minister of Education and other prominent dignitaries.
The aim of Chidon HaTanach is to promote the study of the Tanach amongst Jewish children and strengthen their Torah knowledge and Jewish identity. The international programme is jointly sponsored by the Israeli Ministry of Education and The Jewish Agency who also provided Chidon HaTanach UK with learning materials for the programme as well as sending a representative to the UK on Sunday to help with the event. Sunday’s Chidon HaTanach event was generously sponsored by Family Maierovits, in memory of the late Martin Maierovits Z”L whose granddaughter Ilana Maierovits inspired the renewal of the UK programme.
Ilana Maierovits, a Year 11 Hasmonean student, took part in last year’s World Bible Contest in Israel. Ilana said, “Learning Tanach and participating in the World Bible Contest in Jerusalem has been a life changing experience for me. I am forever grateful to my parents and teachers who encouraged me to study Tanach and made it possible for me to take part in this most amazing experience, and I would encourage anyone who can to get involved!”
At Sunday’s Chidon HaTanach UK event, Chief Rabbi David Lau, Chief Rabbi of Israel, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis of the UK, Isaac Herzog, Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel and Mark Regev, Ambassador of Israel to the UK all sent video messages congratulating all the participating students and organisers of Chidon HaTanach UK.
Chief Rabbi David Lau
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
Mark Regev Ambassador of Israel to the UK
Isaac Herzog Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said: “I’m delighted to extend my heartfelt mazal tov to all the participants and extend a huge congratulations to all the organisers of Chidon HaTanach UK.” The Chief Rabbi also finished his video with a blessing for the students: “May H” bless you in a way whereby all your knowledge and all the wisdom that you have acquired, will be utilised for a Kiddush H” and that that Kiddush H” will be within klal yisroel, and also beyond it.”
Rabbi Chaim Cohen of Yavneh King David High School Manchester, and organiser of the Chidon in previous years, said: “Our students were enthused by it all and came back with a buzz, enthusing others. They are already planning on returning next year!”
Shira Joseph, a parent of one of the Junior Stream participants said: “I just wanted to say a big big thank you on behalf of my entire family for organising the Chidon HaTanach UK. It was amazing to see our daughter who is in year 7, spending her time focusing on learning Torah. In creating this competition, you have shown young people (especially girls) that learning and being learned, is something to be valued rather than laughed at. In today’s day and age to be able to make such a statement is both extremely difficult and extremely important. I’m sure the event must have taken so much time and energy to put together but I just wanted to let you know that the impact it has made on my daughter alone I’m sure will be long lasting and far reaching.”